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Review by Catherine Maw.
“There’s unstoppable fires inside all of us women.”
With its innovative verse and rhythmic prose, Offside is an energetic piece of theatre. When I realise that Hollie McNish has co-written this piece with poet Sabrina Mahfouz, I have high-expectations.
I’m not disappointed.
Walking into the theatre, the first thing you see – hanging high against the back of the stage – are slogans of women’s liberty. This sets the scene for the play, which honestly invokes the experiences of oppression that women have faced in football since 1881. The narration wonderfully articulates the injustice of how women have been treated differently in football to men, having been seen as the weaker sex.
Tanya-Loretta Dee and Jessica Butcher bring Mahfouz and McNish’s characters to life on the stage with an enthusiastic spirit. Their liveliness demonstrates the strength of the female characters; to invoke an inspiring message which all women can apply to their own lives. Between the characters Keeley and Micky there is an admirable display of friendship and solidarity, from which we could all learn. Both Dee and Butcher give moving, emotional performances and at one point I find myself almost crying with Butcher’s character, Keeley.
In this play, Futures Theatre have achieved their goal of creating theatre with women at its heart. Together with superb writers, a fantastic creative team and talented actors, they have triumphed. Offside is an inspiring, passionate and empowering piece, which carries a poignant and necessary message today. What’s more; its catchy chorus lines, with an essence of encouragement, stay in your head long after the curtain goes down.